North will not get promised £30m health and education funding

Money agreed as part of DUP-Conservatives deal will not be accessed this financial year

 SDLP finance spokesperson Claire Hanna: ‘shocked’ that North’s Department of Health did not bid for additional resources given the winter pressures facing frontline staff. Picture: Philip Magowan/PressEye

SDLP finance spokesperson Claire Hanna: ‘shocked’ that North’s Department of Health did not bid for additional resources given the winter pressures facing frontline staff. Picture: Philip Magowan/PressEye

 

Northern Ireland will not get more money in 2018 to deal with “pressures” in health and education budgets from the potential £50 million resource funding allocations that were established as part of the DUP’s Confidence and Supply Agreement deal with the Conservative Party, the North’s Department of Finance has warned.

Last November, Northern Ireland was granted access to £20 million of the £50 million resource funding pot of money to “support immediate pressures in health and education”.

But the North’s health service, already under pressure from previous budgetary cuts, is facing a fresh crisis because of the current flu virus.

The Department of Finance has confirmed that the remaining £30 million of resource funding “will not be accessed in 2017/18” financial year.

“Whilst Treasury have confirmed that the £30 million can be re-profiled into 2018/19 on top of existing budget exchange arrangements, access to this funding requires the approval of both Parliament and the Assembly,” the department confirmed in a statement.

Reallocated

However, the Department of Finance has said £23.3 million from Northern Ireland’s resource budgets and £10.1 million from capital budgets was currently available to be reallocated to various departments that need additional funding. 

As a result, the Department of Education will receive an additional £14 million while the Department for Infrastructure will receive an increase of £9.3 million and the Department for Communities will get £1.6 million to support maintenance of the social housing stock.

Political leaders have questioned why the Department of Health has not applied for additional resources as part of the final reallocations of available cash to key public services in 2017-18.

The SDLP ’s finance spokesperson Claire Hanna said: “The reallocation of resources to address pressures in a range of departments is, of course, welcome. Additional funding for schools to support special educational needs provision and further resources to address the significant deficit facing transport provision can make a real difference.

“I am shocked, however, that given the very serious crisis in our health service and the significant winter pressures facing doctors, nurses and other frontline staff, that there was no bid for additional resources from the Department of Health.”